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State roundup for June 7

Ex-soldier’s fate is debated

HONOLULU (AP) — A federal prosecutor asked for the “ultimate punishment” for a former soldier convicted of his 5-year-old daughter’s murder, while a defense attorney asked for mercy.

Attorneys in a federal death penalty case in Hawaii summed up their arguments Friday on what sentence jurors should give Naeem Williams for the 2005 beating death of his 5-year-old daughter, Talia. The jury that convicted Williams of capital murder in April will decide if his sentence will be death or life in prison without possibility for release.

Williams deserves the death penalty because he beat and tortured his daughter almost daily when she lived with him while he was stationed in Hawaii, said Steven Mellin, a trial attorney in the Justice Department’s capital case unit.

Defense attorney Michael Burt likened the monotony of life in a maximum-security federal penitentiary to the constraints of jury service. He noted that Friday marked the 41st day of the case.

“He has been in custody since 2005, so he has served about 3,000 days, not 41 days in captivity,” Burt said. “He’ll never see the light of day. That is real punishment.”

Burt urged jurors to consider Williams’ two other children, an 11-year-old son living in Georgia and a 9-year-old daughter living in Tennessee.

Senate panel OKs rail funds

HONOLULU (AP) — The U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations has passed a bill that includes $250 million in funding for Honolulu rail.

The bill was passed by the committee Thursday. It includes more than $2 billion in grants to help communities around the nation invest in new rail and bus rapid transit systems.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz says Honolulu made an important decision to build rail transit and it is the federal government’s responsibility to support it. The bill also approves a program that sends $9 million to Hawaii every year to improve the quality of public housing.

It also provides $10 million for a program that supports the State Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. That money helps the state construct new homes and provide support services to low-income Hawaiians.


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